The Tampa Bay Buccaneers join the NFL
Along with the Seattle Seahawks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were an expansion team. They started their NFL career with a record-setting, 26-game losing streak.
The Tampa Bay Lightning joins the NHL
Phil and Tony Esposito created this NHL expansion team, originally playing in the Florida State Fairgrounds’ Expo Hall. In the preseason, goaltender Manon Rhéaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game. Eventually, the Lightning moved to the Thunderdome (now Tropicana Field).
The Lightning move to downtown Tampa
The Channelside District of downtown Tampa welcomed The Lightning to move into their current home. Now called Amalie Arena after current sponsor, Amalie Oil Company, this venue was originally known by the evocative name, “The Ice Palace.”
Hattricks opens its doors
In a thriving downtown, Hattricks immediately became a local favorite for anyone looking for a cold beer, tasty bite and a great game on TV. To this day, we’re still serving up major-league fun!
USF plays their first football game
The University of South Florida Bulls played their first football game at Houlihan Stadium (previously known as Tampa Stadium, but often called The Big Sombrero by locals). The Bulls beat Kentucky Wesleyan, 80–3.
The Tampa Bay area gets a pro baseball team
An ownership group led by Vince Naimoli got MLB approval for an expansion team. The team announced themselves as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (named after the aquatic creature, the giant devil ray or Mobula mobular) to an elated, baseball-hungry sports community.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays play their first game
The Devil Rays played the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field (formerly named the Thunderdome) in front of an opening day crowd of 45,369 baseball fans. Future hall-of-famer Wade Boggs hit the team’s first-ever home run.
The Bucs play their first game at Raymond James Stadium
The “new sombrero” opened to much fanfare, with vastly improved facilities and views. Unfortunately, the Bucs would ultimately play a disappointing 8–8 season.
The Bucs win Super Bowl XXXVII
Coach John Gruden led a ferocious lineup to win the Bucs’ first Super Bowl ring, stomping his former team (the Oakland Raiders) 48–21. Tampa sports fans celebrated for days!
The Lightning win their first Stanley Cup final
In their first-ever appearance in the final, only 12 years into the team’s history, the Tampa Bay Lightning brought home their first Stanley Cup. It took 7 full games to defeat the Calgary Flames.
The Rays make the World Series
The Rays’ first World Series was bittersweet. They were ultimately defeated 4–1 by the Philadelphia Phillies, but local fans celebrated the Rays’ triumphant American League playoff victory, and their amazing regular season, with a huge rally at Straub Park in St. Petersburg.
The Lightning win their second Stanley Cup Final
In their first Stanley Cup Final win since 2004, the Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars in game 6. If possible, Tampa sports fans reacted with even more jubilation the SECOND time around.
The Rays return to the World Series
American League champions again, the Tampa Bay Rays faced the Los Angeles Dodgers during 6 games at Globe Life Field in Arlington, TX. Due to the pandemic, this was the first World series to be played at a neutral site. Unfortunately, the Dodgers prevailed.
The Bucs win their second Super Bowl
In his first season away from the New England Patriots, MVP Tom Brady defeated Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs here at Raymond James Stadium, 31–9. Bruce Arians was the coach.
The Lightning win their third Stanley Cup Final
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the regular season was both shortened and delayed. The Lightning eventually won their third Stanley Cup Final, defeating the Montreal Canadiens at home in game 5. It was a highlight of the year and fan reaction was predictably ecstatic.